Thursday, November 15, 2012

Escalation Clause

Today I have Liz Crowe in with her latest Stewart Realty book, Escalation Clause. This is book six in the series, and is currently available from Tri-Destiny Publishing and your usual booksellers. Liz will be awarding prizes to three randomly drawn commenters during the tour: a signed copy of the new release (either eBook or print); $100 Amazon gift card; and a gift of Stewart Realty (Zazzle) swag of choice.

First, here's a bit about Liz Crowe, then a brief interview and more about the book.

Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.
When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.

Her groundbreaking romance subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)

Her beer blog is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.


The Writer

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
Doing what you truly enjoy and (in the best case scenarios) getting paid to do it.

Worst: figuring out no matter how hard you work there are always people way more successful than you. I’m a serious competitor. This bugs me.

What inspired you to write your current release?

My 10 years of life as Realtor basically, channeled into a sweeping saga that birthed my entire “Romance for Real Life” sub genre.
I like my books realistic to the point of frustrating and sad. So I write them that way too and have gained a fairly decent following by staying true to that.

How important is the setting/world in your books?

Well, I don’t read a lot of paranormal or sci fi or other genres that require world building however I will say that a well-crafted, realistic “fake” world is pretty compelling. I read the YA series “Chaos Walking” by Patrick Ness which has a fairly out-there concept at it’s core and LOVED it because that guy is a master of making it real.

What drives your books? Is it the hero, the heroine, the conflict?

My stories are all very character driven. But bear in mind I don’t use a lot “traditional romance” norms.  While the happy ending may occur, I tend to go past it, get into what happens AFTER and dig deep into character motivation beyond the white wedding or whatever.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

Pantster.  Because the thought of “organizing” a plot on paper sounds like the worst kind of muse-stifling activity—but that is just me.
THAT SAID, I am always about pushing my own boundaries.  So as part of a long mainstream project I will be starting next year I’m going to try my hand at plot and character mapping. 

What is the best advice you ever got as a writer? The worst? If you could go back in time and give your beginner-writer-self some advice, what would you say?

Best: Don’t give up. But don’t be inflexible and unable to take criticism.
Worst: Don’t bother with social networking. “Just write” and the readers will come.

Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?

Escalation Clause (Stewart Realty book 6) is my most recent release. It picks up the story thread from the end of Essence of Time and moves the various characters forward, dealing with personal tragedy and loss.  It is NOT meant as a stand alone novel. If you try and jump in at this point you will be losing a lot of the nuts and bolts of what happened to get everyone to this point. But never fear! The first 5 books are award winning and best selling and my fan base grows daily!

The Person

When you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?

Mainstream fiction mostly. I just finished John Irving’s latest book which was amazing and am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and just re-read the Life of Pi by Yann Martel (one of the best books ever written).

What bores you as a reader?

Werewolves or “shifters” of any kind---they don’t bore me they just sort of creep me out I guess.
I’m bored by sex books written to titillate and not tell a story.

What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?

My favorite food is pizza.
My guilty pleasure food is pizza.

If you could go anywhere on a vacation where would you go?

Back to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey after 2 weeks spent in Istanbul (where I lived for 2 years).

Do you have a secret talent? 

I can brew beer.

What do you think is romantic? What does the word Romance mean to you?

Because I feel pretty strongly about my “romance for real life” sub-genre I believe that taking what is real and making it sexy is romantic.  I like surprise “let’s go out to dinners” and “stay in bed and I’ll make breakfasts” and am a huge fan of “meet me at noon at (blank)” to find myself in a sexy moment with a special someone on the spur of the moment. I’m not a huge fan of giant weddings, over the top gestures or even flowers. 
Working around every day life and its responsibilities like jobs and kids and (For me) small business ownership to capture a sexy or surprise moment is the most romantic thing anyone can do for me.


Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?

Men who play soccer.
Craft Beer.
College Football season.

If you could create your own drink what would go in it and what would you call it?

Water, malt, hops and yeast.
It would be beer. I don’t think any more pure form of “drink” exists.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to figure out a book?

Contacting the owners of several large and successful Michigan breweries to ask them one question:
What is your worst nightmare sabotage for the brewery? When working on Cheeky Blonde, a stand alone brewery based romantic suspense novel (Decadent Publishing). I used every answer I got too.

You’re having a dinner party, what five people would you invite?

Ok, trying not to get political here I would invite:
Bill Clinton because I am dying to flirt with a master
Sam Calagione (owner of Dog Fish Head brewery) because he is my official beer crush.
Kim Jordan, Owner/founder of New Belgium brewing in Colorado because she is my hero.
E.L. James and JR Ward so they could arm rassle and we could all drink beer and watch.

What book was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest to write?

They are all fun to a certain extent but Essence of Time was the hardest.  IF you have read it, you know why.I

eBooks or print forever?

Both. I have books queued up on my Ipad Kindle app and sitting on my bedside table.

You are offered your final meal. You can have anything you want. What would it be?
Filet Mignon, rare
Cheesy whipped potatoes from The Chop House (Ann Arbor)
Spinach salad with balsamic
Crème Brule
Flash round (don’t think, just answer)

Ice cream, vanilla or chocolate? 
Steak or salmon? 
Heels or sandals? 
Dogs or cats? 
Snakes or Spiders? 
Beer or girly drink with umbrella?
Right. Next ?
Boxers, briefs or commando?
Boxers unless they are playing soccer
Vampire, demon or shifter?
None of the above
Mountains or seashore?
Beach (with a beer, please)

Liz Crowe

Young love burns hot and bright. Soul mates are found, then lost in the blink of an eye. When young widow Maureen Gordon Taylor meets her daughter's sexy soccer coach, her body and heart slowly unthaw.  But will holding tight to the past cost her a future?  
A devastating blow shatters a family's fragile happiness. Rob Freitag and Lila Warren now confront life without the emotional glue that once bound them, but a shared goal brings them back together. Is it enough to make them whole again and become the family they were meant to be?
Mutual trust is hard won for the Gordons.  When tragedy strikes, Jack and Sara’s lives are sent into a tailspin.  To keep her family from falling apart, she must force Jack to admit his deepest fears. After everything they’ve been through, can they revive the spark and move to the next stage of marital fulfillment?
The sweeping saga of the Stewart Realty series continues as long-time friends learn to rely on each other, and to grab hold of happiness before it's too late. 

PG Excerpt from Escalation Clause

Sara handed Lila another tissue, but her own eyes stayed dry. Observing the slow dissolution of her brother’s remaining family hurt, but pretty much everything hurt these days.

It was just, as they say, one more thing.

She patted the woman’s shaking shoulders, listened to her rant about Rob. But she hardly heard anything. The bubble wrap that seemed to encase her had not loosened as she hoped and prayed it would. And after a year, the wall between her and Jack approached Chinese construction standards. She watched, numb, while Katie and Maddie rolled around on the floor with their little brothers.

“Sara,” Lila said.

She turned her head slowly, noted she was late for work . “Yeah, sorry.” She tried a smile, but the other woman’s face remained frowning.

“Are you okay?” Lila’s black hair was shorter these days, and framed her heart-shaped face. Sara tried to focus on anything beyond that. Katie yelled when one of the little boys bopped her on the head with a plastic toy. The dog barked, wanting food. Her head pounded, throat ached with unshed tears. People needed her. She rose, pressed her skirt down.

“Yes, no, who knows. But I am late for work. Will you be all right here with all this chaos?” She pointed to the kids on the floor. “The nanny will be here at noon. I … Jack was supposed to be home already.” she looked up, confused when she heard the door open, and the clink of keys, watch and fountain pen being deposited in their appointed spaces on the table by the front door. “He flew in on the red eye from the west coast last night,” Sara sat back down, suddenly exhausted and needing her husband’s arms around her more than her next meal.

Jack strolled in, still dressed in dark suit pants and a thoroughly travel-wrinkled white shirt. Her heart did its usual roll at the sight of him. But he didn’t look at her. More than once she’d demanded time to talk, requested his undivided attention for some serious conversation about his distance. He kept coming up with excuses to avoid her and given how chaotic their lives were with two kids, a dog and very busy careers, excuses were easy to come by. So she had held back the one thing she knew he required, telling him flat out that she would not be sleeping with him until they cleared the air with a long talk. They had not had sex, or actually exchanged words beyond the necessary logistics of work and children for seven months.

Jack smiled down at Katie who’d latched onto him, kissed her and was staring down at the two little boys. Brandis was standing up holding onto the couch, a recent trick and one Sara had dreaded since it meant mobility for a kid who was never still anyway. He made his slow way to the edge of the leather ottoman glaring at Gabriel whose bright blond hair was back lit from the sun coming through the large window. They were in a mortal battle over a single dump truck and warfare was escalating fast. Brandis had already pushed Gabe down on his butt once, but the other boy quickly recovered. In a funny toddler attempt at diversion, he’d handed Brandis a matchbox car giving Gabe enough time to grab the obnoxiously orange truck and drop to his knees to make a swift crawling getaway. Since Brandis seemed stuck hanging onto the furniture, he wailed and threw the car, hitting his sister in the temple, then dropped to all fours and chased Gabe to the kitchen. Katie followed them. “Mom!” She yelled. “They’re feeding the dog Cheerios. That okay?”

By the time Jack had arrived Brandis was in full-throated fury, just as Sara was trying to leave the house. The boy made a crawling beeline for his father, and Gabe followed. He was already pretty steady on his feet, the cheap plastic toy clutched to his chest as if it were the Hope diamond. The dog brought up the rear, lapping up the little round circles of processed sugar dropped in their wake.

“Hey sport,” Jack plucked his son from the floor, kissed him then did a double take when he saw the other boy. “Well hello there. Little Rob. Wow.”

Sara watched the scene unfold, silent, but thankful he at least acknowledged his own son. Since Brandis had such a raging temper he was usually screaming about something or throwing things or in his crib for a time out, which meant Jack could ignore him, leaving the discipline to her. Gabe stared up at Jack, thumb in his mouth, the truck still held tight.

“Pa!” Brandis glared at his father. “Mine.” He pointed down at Gabe. Brandis had developed clear speech patterns early and was on the verge of walking at a year as well. The kid was an eerie mirror image of the man holding him, Sara observed for the thousandth time. Jack bent down and put Brandis on the floor. The boy lunged for the truck but his father held him back.

“No. Share,” he said, reaching over and snagging one of the zillions of trucks scattered around the room. “Yours.” He pressed an identical cheap blue dump truck to Brandis’ small chest. The boy’s face lit up with joy and he dropped to all fours and rolled the thing back to the kitchen with Gabe tottering along behind, so they could resume kitchen demolition by cereal. The eager dog scampered after them. 

Because this is not a stand alone book, I am adding the series buy links to this post for you to get the rest of the books in the Stewart Realty Series.

Thanks again to Liz Crowe for coming by today, and giving us all a peek at her new Stewart Realty book, Escalation Clause. Remember to leave your e-mail address in your comment, because there are some really great things up for grabs here.


  1. thanks for having me and for such a GREAT interview! loved it!

  2. Love this series! I think I need to make my way to Ann Arbor to try Liz's beer...

  3. LOL, the drink flash round question...yep, that was funny. I'm glad you said that Essence of Time was your hardest to write, all your books are great, but that one is truly breathtaking, my fav! Hoping one day soon the hubby and I can get out your way to try some of your brews, we love trying new beers :) Many congrats to you, and much success in the future!

  4. This is an awesome series. Thank you Liz Crowe!

  5. Great interview Nancy and Liz. And yes, I can see where Essence would have been the hardest to write. :) Awesome book and thank you for writing it Liz.


  6. Great always Liz you do not disappoint! Escalation Clause is the just the latest in the wonderful Stewart Realty Series. Start with Floor Time and you won't regret going on this journey. Thanks for writing what we all want to read.

  7. Hi Liz,

    What characters are the hardest/easiest for you to write: The hero, the heroine, the villain (or villainess), the secondary male & female characters? What are the most fun to write?

    And, is your beer sold in Flint?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  8. That was a great interview, I love learning more about an author. I also enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.


  9. Great interview! I laughed at some of Liz's answers.
    Sounds like another fabulous book that will go far, Liz. :)
    Thanks for hosting. Loved the leaf background.

  10. Karen H in NC I would say writing characters, be they "heroes," heroines or anything in between is the most important thing that I do. As I say, my books are all character driven so I take special care to make them unique and compelling in their own right. Frankly, the characters of Rob and Blake in the first 3 books, definitely 2ndary to that story, compelled me so much I gave them an entire novel, and one some claim as the best of the series. The beer is not sold in Flint as of yet, no but thanks for asking! come on down to Ann Arbor sometime.....there is as lot of it here!

  11. I love Liz! There's no one like her. She's a fresh voice standing alone.
    I agree with most everything she said except that shocking admission that she hates shifters! (Gasp!) Something must be done about this... : )
    XXOO Kat

  12. Only your shifters Kat...those I liked.

  13. Thanks for the fun interview. Hmmm...the last meal sounds perfect except I'll take my medium rare.I'll have to head down and check out the Chop House someday

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  14. If you're going to own a brewery, it's good to be in a major college town, isn't it?

    You lives in Istanbul? WOW, I bet that was an experience. Does any of that experience come out in any of your writing?
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  15. Entertaining interview--can't wait to try the series!


  16. The worst advice was bad indeed. If you want to be found do the rounds.

    I loved the maniacal?? laughter at the Beer or Girly Drink With an Umbrella? question.


  17. The love humor in this interview. Loved the series. Can't wait for more!

  18. Love the interview, it was great and thanks for sharing the blurb and excerpt, it looks great!


  19. I have to say I am in complete agreement with Liz on the three important things to tell Aliens if they landed on earth....Men that play soccer being at the top of the list =)

    Great interview!